One fine day if all human beings except me die I think I will choose to live some more time for one particular reason. And that reason is to read books. I know! The desire to read books even after every kith and kin of me has perished seems stupid. But it is important to me. I derive heavenly bliss from reading the Godly books. I believe that the books treasure in them the thousands of years of wisdom of great souls. Whenever I see a great book I experience a current of ecstasy through my senses. In this blog post I list some of my most favorite books on a wide variety of topics that have influenced me heavily.
What are the specifications that a book must have to be in my favorite books list? It is similar to the specification that a movie must satisfy to be in my favorite movie list – the book must be haunting. If a book affects me so much that I spend weeks or months or years contemplating it then it goes into my favorite book list.
The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Joseph Murphy
This is the greatest book I have ever read in my life. This book is my Bhagavadgeetha, Bible, and Quran. The reading of this book is so significant event in my life that my entire life can be divided into two parts: life before I read the book and life after I read the book. All the book says is one simple statement “Whatever you think becomes reality.” To understand this statement deep enough we need to read the book. Joseph gives lots of real-life examples which people have used. I have used the great idea to get mind-blowing results and solve some of the greatest problems of my life. I will share them sometime in a future blog post. On Earth, there is nothing great but man. In man, there is nothing great but mind. This mind book reveals one of the greatest secrets of cosmos. I thank my college-mate Nagesh Savukar from the bottom of my heart to have recommended and given this book.
If I can pick one greatest work from entire India (all past and present) that is most useful for life it would be Ramayana. Ramayana is probably the oldest poem of the world that was originally created by saint Valmiki. Thousands of authors have recreated Ramayana and many of those books are good. I have read “Eleyara Ramayana (Kannada)” written for the young ones by Mai Na Nagaraja. Ramayana literally means “the path followed by Rama”. Rama is a fictional character who symbolizes and personifies all great virtues and values a man should have. Ramayana is all about the life of Rama. To the best of my knowledge, Ramayana is the only work in the world that characterizes an ideal man from whom we can learn the art of living from. Rama is ideal in every sense — ideal King, ideal ruler, ideal son, ideal brother, ideal husband, so on up to infinity. I had studied the book when I was in 9th or 10th grade and since then a lot of Rama’s characters I have tried / trying to imbibe in my own life.
Introduction to the Design & Analysis of Algorithms by Anany Levitin
This book is probably the greatest book ever written on algorithms. The content, presentation, and organization of knowledge on algorithms in this book is unparalleled. An algorithm is a step-by-step procedure to solve a problem. Algorithms teach us the art of problem solving. I have tried to use algorithmic thinking to solve several problems in my own life. Anany Levitin says in the initial chapter that the notion of algorithms so general that it can be applied everywhere for problem solving and computer science is only one application of the giant topic. Right now am in my 5th year of PhD in algorithms and all credit goes to Anany Levitin and his legendary book. I have used algorithmic thinking to study and apply for a PhD in algorithms. I have used algorithmic thinking to solve extremely tough problems of computer science such as coming up with a computer algorithm to discover other computer algorithms automatically. I am using algorithmic thinking to search for my life-partner. And, I am using algorithmic-thinking to build my future career as well.
Thomas’ Calculus by George B Thomas, Maurice D Weir, Joel Hass, Frank R Giordano
A superb book on calculus. When I was in the 11th or 12th standard (or grade) I was going to IIT coaching classes. I was not able to understand any calculus taught there. That was the first time in my life I had difficulty in understanding mathematics. I was lagging behind compared with my classmates in understanding about calculus. I met a Professor named Santhanam and asked him a good book to study calculus and introduced this book to me. I think in a couple of days I completed around 250 pages of the book faster than any “Harry Potter” or “A Song of Ice and Fire” fan can ever read. On top of that, reading a technical book is way harder than reading a non-technical book. It was the simplity and style of the book that taught me calculus and in a few months I became kind-of an expert in differential calculus. Credit card companies, biologists, electrical engineers, architects, space flight engineers, statisticians, physicists, operations research analysts, and graphics artists all use calculus. This book is the bible of all calculus.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff: It is all Small Stuff by Richard Carlson
The title of the book means that we should not worry for the small things in life. Most of our time goes in thinking and worrying about silly things which when looked at from a 3rd person seems negligibly small. Hence
The book has 100 chapters and each chapter is of size 1 or 2 pages. Each chapter gives the reader so much cool, calm, peace of mind, satisfaction, and at the end of chapter the reader feels like “Wow! Life is beautiful. Why was I not following this before? Stupid me.” Knowing something theoretically is different and implementing that raw knowledge is different. The happiness one gets by implementing the gems taught in the book is unbeatable. I thank Darshan S. Palasamudram for recommending this book.
Introduction to Critical Thinking and Creativity by Joe Lau
The book teaches how to think critically and creatively. Thinking critically involves analyzing the assumptions, questioning, identifying the linguistic pitfalls, analyzing the arguments through reasoning, good decision making, etc. When we read a book or newspaper or a research paper or listen to a person talk we want to analyze the writer’s or speaker’s assumptions and the reasoning used to derive the conclusions. The common world is full of illogical reasoning and it is utmost important for us to equip ourselves with this tool called critical thinking to identify the truth and make the right choices.
Black Holes, Wormholes, and Time Machines by Jim Al-Khalili
I love philosophy. Many times I think about my identity, why is the cosmos the way it is, why was it created, what is the reason behind everything, why life, etc. For none of these questions I get answers. Still, thinking about them takes us to a higher level of thinking and consciousness. The part of science that is closely related to this part of philosophy is cosmology. Among a couple of books I have read on cosmology my favorite is my Jim Al-Khalili. His teaching style, examples used, questions asked, organization of the book etc takes the reader on an unforgettable journey to the cosmos and the wonders of nature.
Difficult Conversations by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, and Sheila Heen
Wow! What a book. After completing the book I started repenting for not being taught the art of conversing in my 4th standard or grade (it is the same case with any student on Earth). We talk, talk, and talk more. We talk non-stop. But we have no shit idea how to talk and how to converse. We argue instead of discussing. We consider a discussion as a battlefield to be won. We convince ourselves that we are right and the other person is wrong. The book gives a mind-blowing way to look at the conversations from a 3rd person analying the reasonings and logic critically. When we disagree / argue / use hurtful words / try to convince friends, parents, relatives, colleagues, employees, advisers, managers, spouse, investors, etc on any topic the situation becomes difficult to handle or manage. This book deals with how to maturely solve this problem of handling difficult conversations. I must thank Darshan S. Palasamudram for recommending this book.
EntreLeadership by Dave Ramsey
Entrepreneurship + leadership = entreleadership. This is a great book to learn about creating your own business and being a great leader to convert a dream to reality. Though the chapter headings are crappy, his presentation style is simple and he gives lots of quotes. Qualities of a leader, what to expect when you run a business, hiring, firing, marketing, selling, accounting, funding, delegation, and many more ideas are taught in this book. The only negative point I see in this book is that Dave talks exponentially more about money than passion which I think is not the right mindset of a leader. In any case, this is a great book to learn some nice tools and techniques of the trade of business.
The 100 Absolutely Unbreakable Laws of Business Success by Brian Tracy
The book gives 100 laws to succeed in business. The principles given in the book are so simple, powerful, and appealing that in no way one would disagree with those principles. Each chapter is more related to a character. Each principle is like a gem if when implemented leads to great results. I loved reading the book. The chapters are divided into laws of life, laws of success, laws of business, laws of leadership, laws of money, laws of selling, laws of negotiating, and laws of time management. The book is immensely useful to set the mind if one wants to become a business leader.
Philosophy: A Text with Readings by Manuel Velasquez
Philosophy is the mother of all sciences. It is one of a few topics that is extremely close to my heart. Philosophy is all about fundamental thinking. Some of the topics one studies in philosophy are cosmos, God, creation, nature, knowledge, science, truth, space, time, life, mind, body, ethics, justice, and so on. Many philosophies of today become the sciences of tomorrow. The book gives a lot of perspectives from different philosophers and also gives lots of examples and readings from the work of philosophers. Love philosophy.
Guide to Getting it On by Paul Joannides
From high school I have always been fascinated about romance, intimacy, and sex. I had no shit idea about sex till my bachelors. I had even failed in my 12th standard biology because I was trying to solve math problems of IIT in biology classes. In my engineering days I was taught about sex by some of my classmates. In PhD I learned a bit about the art of making love and still learning lots. For me sex leads to a higher level of consciousness. Probably more important than sex itself is the intimacy. Romance and intimacy can be without without having sex. It is totally possible to have a romantic evening without even touching. Romance is one of the foundational pillars for a happy family life. The book is teaching me romance, kissing, hugging, penis, and many other great topics. I still have to learn a lot from the book. The information content, presentation style, and organization has already made me a fan of this book and its topic.
The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
I have read just a small part of the book and still a lot is remaining. But I am already convinced that the book is great and has influenced me a lot. When I was a kid I was a believer of personal God with human form. When I came to college I did not believe in a personal God but I believed in some kind of supreme energy for the creation. In PhD I have been oscillating heavily between agnosticism and atheism. I believe I have enough scientific and philosophical reasons to simultaneously be an agnostic and an atheist. But I still don’t know. The book has amazing points from both theist and atheist’s perspectives. But I am not sure if the book covers the agnostic’s view of the cosmos. Anyway, I like the book. I thank my maternal uncle K. D. Bhat to have argued with me when I came to US in 2011 that God does not exist and also recommending this book.
The Future of the Mind by Michio Kaku
According to me the greatest discovery of the mankind in the 20th century was computers and internet. I believe the greatest discovery of the mankind in the 21st century will be technologies related to mind i.e., recording dreams, storing experiences in storage cards and playing whenever required, mindbook similar to facebook where minds are connected over network, controlling people through mind, telepathy, etc. In this ground-breaking book Kaku does a solid survey of many research projects on mind technologies going on in universities and research labs which have some type of prototypes to show the proof-of-concept. I am eagerly waiting for some of those technologies to come in my lifetime.
There are tens of other books that I have read (partly or in rare cases fully) and liked. Some of them are here:
- Mahabharata – Veda Vyasa
- Vikram Betaal
- Who Will Cry When You Die – Robin S. Sharma
- Tales and Parables of Sri Ramakrishna
- Higher Algebra – H. S. Hall, S. R. Knight
- Higher Algebra – S. Barnard, J. M. Child
- Plane Trigonometry – S. L. Loney
- Co-ordinate Geometry – S. L. Loney
- Calculus in One Variable – I. A. Maron
- Encyclopedia of Mathematics – Eric Weisstein
- Elementary Linear Algebra – Howard Anton
- The World of Mathematics – James R. Newman
- Engineering Mathematics – B. S. Grewal
- Men in Mathematics – E. T. Bell
- One Two Three … Infinity – George Gamow
- Real Life Math – Evan M. Glazer, John W. McConnell
- The MaTH bOOK – Clifford A. Pickover
- 50+ books on mathematical puzzles (I will cite many of these books in the mathematical puzzle book I am writing)
- Introduction to Algorithms – Thomas H. Cormen, Charles E. Leiserson, Ronald L. Rivest, Clifford Stein
- The Algorithm Design Manual – Steven Skiena
- Algorithms – S. Dasgupta, C. H. Papadimitriou, U.V. Vazirani
- Fundamentals of Computer Algorithms – Ellis Horowitz, Sartaj Sahni, Sanguthevar Rajasekaran
- She Comes First: The Thinking Man’s Guide to Pleasuring a Woman – Ian Kerner
- The Discoverers – Daniel J. Boorstin
- 101 Philosophy Problems – Martin Cohen
- Quantum Enigma: Physics Encounters Consciousness – Bruce Rosenblum, Fred Kuttner
- Britannica Encyclopedia of World Religions
- Psychology – David G. Myers
Learn, learn, and learn till you die. Learn not for grades, not for jobs, not for money, not for fame, but only for the pure love of learning. Happy learning.